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Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association Blog

Total reliance on electric heat is a dangerous game during Northeast winters

31 October 2022

The regional power grids serving New England and New York are both at critical risk of maxing out as the Northeast prepares for a potentially brutal winter and the prospect of rolling blackouts or storm-related outages.

Natural gas supplies are at near record lows and demand on the power grids is being driven higher by increased electrical vehicle use and a push to exclusively use electricity for heating homes. That’s bad policy in one of the coldest regions for winter in all of the U.S., and it will contribute to making the grids less reliable in the event of severe cold weather conditions.

We’ve already been warned by grid operators that winter power outages and other weather-related disruptions could devastate millions of residents in the Northeast, as seen not long ago in Texas. Over-reliance on electric heat is a dangerous risk when weather events threaten to thrust households and families into the cold for days or even weeks.

This problem is not going away. In fact it’s only getting worse. Energy security is more important than ever as global events have dramatically impacted supplies and driven costs to record levels.

Imported liquefied natural gas is crucial for the Northeast to cover supply gaps during the winter months. Yet disruption in pipelines, closing of pipelines, the war in Ukraine and Russia’s disruption of supplies through its pipeline are already a threat to our energy supplies. A tough winter could mean real problems as global demand for natural gas reduces the availability of supplies for gas-powered electric plants.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported

“The region’s power-grid operator, ISO New England Inc., has warned that an extremely cold winter could strain the reliability of the grid and potentially result in the need for rolling blackouts to keep electricity supply and demand in balance. The warning comes as executives and analysts predict power producers could have to pay as much as several times more than last year for gas deliveries if severe weather creates urgent need for spot-market purchases.”

“Demand is growing not just regionally and nationally for natural gas, but globally as well. And that global competition is having a direct impact on the cost and availability of fuel to heat homes in New England and New York,” said Joel Etter, President of the Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA). “The timing could not be worse for any initiative to purposely reduce gas supplies and artificially impact demand by harming energy diversity with building regulations and other measures.”

NEHPBA supports the recent request by New England to the U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm that domestic LNG imports be allowed to the region. We also agree that more coordination is needed with the federal government to ensure energy reliability and diversity.

Expanding our national energy portfolio and supply resources to include more renewable sources is crucial, and NEHPBA supports that as New England, New York and the entire U.S. work to achieve important climate goals. But that is not a transition that can be made abruptly without serious risk to households and families.

“If you are heating your home exclusively with electricity in the Northeast, your bills this winter will be the highest they’ve been in years,” said NEHPBA Executive Director Karen Arpino. “The idea that you must also prepare for a potentially dangerous situation with no heat for several days because the power grid can’t keep up is troubling.”


Rising fuel costs spark rush to buy firewood and stoves for home heating - NEHPBA in the News!

18 October 2022

Consumers also looking to buy wood stoves, chainsaws

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Lou Faraone has what he describes as four miles' worth of seasoned firewood, laid end to end, so he’s confident he’s got enough to meet demand. 

But some days he figures he could use even more.

“It’s been a crazy year,” said Faraone who operates Exit 15N Firewood here.

More and more homeowners call or email him every time there is news about another increase in energy and heating costs for the coming winter.

Lou Faraone started selling firewood as a third career. He started in Malta and moved to Wilton to expand the business. He sells wood for cooking to 52 local restaurants. Video: Times Union

Others agree that rising gas, electricity, oil and even propane prices have prompted many New Yorkers to turn to firewood for heat.

Some may have old stoves purchased years ago which are being pressed back into service while others are looking at new installations.

“When fuel costs more they are going to look at wood,” said Victor Cardona, who operates Firewood Connect, an on-line directory that allows customers to contact local firewood sellers.

Heating costs are certainly expected to jump this winter.

Earlier this year, National Grid, which supplies natural gas and electricity across much of the Capital Region and upstate New York, predicted that heating bills will rise 31 percent during the five-month winter heating period that starts in November. The average residential customer is expected to pay $651 over the five-month period, or an increase of $155. It’s the biggest increase in more than a decade.

Other forms of heating are going up as well.

Propane, derived from natural gas and which is popular in rural locations without gas line hookups, was selling for $3.46 a gallon in September, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, NYSERDA. In 2020 it was $2.46 a gallon.

Electricity is up almost 46 percent year over year as of June, according to NYSERDA.

With high demand, wood costs are also rising. Some providers like Advantage Tree Service in Delmar, have held prices at $395 per cord delivered (within a five mile radius) for the past two years.

But others are charging more this year, although some charged under $300 in past years.

A cord is 128 cubic feet of stacked wood, or 4-by-8 feet of 4-foot long split logs.

Homeowners also are shopping for more wood stoves.

“There’s a ton of people,” said Lucas Stritsman, who operates Best Fire Hearth and Patio in Colonie.

“People want to hedge their energy position,” he said.

Like others in the industry, the store has its roots in the 1970s Arab oil embargo, which led to gasoline lines at service stations and a newfound concern over fuel scarcity.

While energy prices are the underlying spark of this latest boom, customer interest can be inflamed by specific changes in the weather or by news events.

“We see a lot more interest when it gets cooler,” said Cardona.

News events also add to the interest in wood. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, as most people now know, has caused a global rise in oil and gas prices.

Faraone noted that more people seemed to come in last month, after radio show host Glenn Beck, in a commentary about rising fuel prices proclaimed that “firewood is the new gold."

And Stritsman says some customers are looking to get wood stoves since they are worried about the possibility that gas appliances won’t be available in future years.

The state’s appointed Climate Action Council, which is developing guidance for greenhouse gas reduction policies, is looking at bans on new gas appliances and on new gas hookups in future years. The group is also looking at reducing the use of wood, which can emit soot and other harmful compounds.

That possibility has also driven up interest by buyers who may want gas fireplace inserts and fear they'll be unavailable in the future.

Either way, changing regulations are having an impact on sales, and that’s especially true for wood stoves, said Karen Arpino, executive director for the Northeast Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association, a trade group that includes wood stove sellers.

Wood stoves are currently in short supply in part because of tougher EPA emissions rules that took effect in 2020. Stoves made prior to May 2020, when the new regulations took effect, had to be dismantled.

The newer stoves are far cleaner and more efficient than their older cousins, but the new regulations took tens of thousands of stoves, that had already been manufactured, off the market.

Modern wood stoves can easily cost $3,000 or more, Arpino added. Set-up costs including installation of proper flues and safety features can add thousands of dollars additionally.

The forced retirement of pre-2020 stoves, combined with the same kind of pandemic-era labor shortages that plague all businesses, has led to shortfalls in stove production.

“It was a massive economic hurdle,” said Arpino. “Now it’s just a fight for products.”

Worker shortages aren’t just in the stove-making business. Some wood providers are struggling to get enough sawyers to keep up with demand.

“They just don’t want to work,” said Pam, who didn’t give her last name and who works at Anjoe Tree Service in Albany, one of several tree removal and trimming companies that also sell firewood.

They could use a couple more wood cutters, who can earn up to $30-an-hour with experience, she said.

“They work a couple days and maybe a week and realize it’s a little more (effort) than they thought,” she said, referring to people who try to work in the firewood business but can’t cut it.


Times Union, Rick Karlin, Oct. 16, 2022 


Natural Gas Spikes About To Show Up In Winter Electric, Heating Bills

22 September 2022

It is still technically summer, but Massachusetts energy officials are putting residents on notice now that the cost of heating their homes and keeping the lights on is likely to skyrocket this winter as the price of natural gas soars.

About half of New England's electric generation is powered by natural gas or liquid natural gas, commodities that are sold on the global market and subject to its whims. The region's relative overreliance on natural gas is going to mean budget-busting electric bills for many households this winter and state officials are reportedly working with federal counterparts to prepare for this winter.

"This winter will be, at best, a very high-cost energy winter," Judy Chang, undersecretary of energy and climate solutions in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said Tuesday morning. "So, everybody should conserve. Everybody who has close friends, please tell them conserve ... I think it's useful for everyone to be aware of that and spread the word for conservation as much as possible."

On Wednesday, National Grid announced many of its electric customers are going to get eye-popping bills when winter rolls around thanks to the price of natural gas being "significantly higher this winter due to global conflict, inflation and high demand."

Residential National Grid electric customers on basic service who use 600 kilowatt-hours of power will see their monthly electric bills jump from $179 in the winter 2021-2022 season to approximately $293 for the winter 2022-2023 season -- a 64 percent increase -- according to the company and its rate filing with the Department of Public Utilities.

"We know winter isn't far away, so we're encouraging and making it easier for our customers to take action now and letting them know that we are here to help," Helen Burt, National Grid's chief customer officer said in a press release highlighting its "Winter Customer Savings Initiative" that will seek to help customers reduce energy use to save money and connect with available energy assistance programs. - Colin A. Young/SHNS 


Baker Shook By Home Energy Conversion Cost

23 August 2022

A few months ago, Gov. Charlie Baker said he wanted to test the "mythology out there" that heat pumps aren't a realistic heating alternative for single-family homes in a cold weather climate like Massachusetts has by having his home evaluated as a potential electrification candidate.

The "mythology" that the governor was talking about in April is more about whether a heat pump, which transfers heat from the ground or air indoors, can effectively warm old New England homes like the 140-year-old one that Baker owns in Swampscott. But when he had experts out to take a look, he saw first-hand another one of the barriers to electrification -- the cost.

"Our house was all radiators when we moved into it; it was built in 1880, OK? We've converted more than half of it to forced hot air, OK? I had people come to tell me what it would take to sort of replace the rest of the radiators with heat pumps -- it was eye-popping," Baker said Thursday on GBH's Boston Public Radio after co-host Margery Eagan mentioned the cost of a heat pump.

Massachusetts has committed to reduce carbon emissions by at least 33 percent by 2025, at least 50 percent by 2030, at least 75 percent by 2040 and at least 85 percent by 2050, with tag-along policies required to get the state to net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. Getting electricity from renewable sources and switching things that run on fossil fuels to use that cleaner electricity is the state's primary strategy for meeting those requirements.

The governor made a pitch on GBH for one of the main features of his most recent climate legislation -- a massive energy innovation fund seeded with American Rescue Plan Act money -- and said he thinks the clean energy world needs to take a page from the COVID-19 response playbook to speed up technological advances that will help bring down the costs of electrification.

"The simplest comparison I can make to this is what really got us out of COVID wasn't rules and regulations and requirements and orders, OK? It was vaccines, right, built off of years of people studying and figuring out how to do [mRNA] and getting it done in a very short period of time," Baker said. "Innovation has to be part of the answer here." - Colin A. Young/SHNS | 8/22/22 9:52 AM


Boston wants to ban fossil fuels in new buildings

16 August 2022

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu addresses an audience during swearing-in ceremonies for Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Boston.

The city of Boston is seeking state permission to ban fossil fuels from new construction, a step toward reducing climate-harming emissions on a large scale, Mayor Michelle Wu announced Tuesday. 

Days after Gov. Baker signed a new climate law allowing 10 cities and towns in Massachusetts to implement such a ban, Wu said she is pushing for the state’s largest city to be included in the pilot project. 

Bans of fossil fuel in new buildings, forcing them to rely on alternative forms of heat, chiefly electric heat pumps, has been seen as a way to begin a larger-scale transition away from fossil fuel in homes and commercial businesses. If chosen for the pilot program, Boston would become one of a small handful of major U.S. cities to enact such a ban, along with New York City, Seattle and Washington, D.C. 

“Boston must lead by taking every possible step for climate justice to achieve our carbon reduction goals,” Wu said in a statement. “Fossil fuels, including natural gas, are known polluters that have negative implications on the environment and public health, particularly within our environmental justice communities. 

Wu announced that the city will file a so-called “Home Rule Petition” with the Legislature, which will make it eligible to take part in the pilot, which exempts labs and medical facilities from a ban. The Wu administration will also start the process of talking with the community, business interests, environmental groups and others to define what a ban would look like in Boston, including setting the bounds of a multi-year timeline to phase out fossil fuels. 

Banning fossil fuels from new buildings would help Boston to take a bite out of its biggest source of emissions. The on-site burning of fossil fuels accounts for more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions in Boston, according to the city. And compared to getting existing buildings off of fossil fuels, which represents a logistical—and expensive—challenge, ensuring that new buildings are built climate-friendly is considered low-hanging fruit. 

Wu’s announcement was met with enthusiasm from climate advocates. “We must target new buildings as some of the lowest hanging fruit, to achieve zero emissions through equitable electrification,” Michele Brooks, lead Boston organizer with the Massachusetts Sierra Club, said in a statement. 

But that’s only if the state chooses Boston to be included in the pilot. 

The bill signed last week by Baker gives priority to the first ten communities to file home rule petitions, and ten communities have already taken that step: Cambridge, Newton, Brookline, Lexington, Arlington, Concord, Lincoln, Acton, Aquinnah, and West Tisbury. 

According to state Sen. Michael Barrett, who was a lead negotiator of the climate bill, the city of Boston was asked to file a petition months ago, as the climate bill was being crafted, so it could secure a spot in the pilot. The city opted not to, according to a spokesperson for Wu, because it wanted to see the final bill before proceeding. 

Slashing emissions from buildings represents a “real leadership opportunity” for the city — one that will be harder to achieve because of Boston’s hesitation in starting the process earlier, he said. 

There is still a chance that Boston will be able to join the pilot, though. The climate bill requires that communities meet an affordable housing requirement, and it’s unclear if all of the 10 communities that have filed so far will be able to do so. They will have 18 months to meet the requirement, and if it doesn’t happen, they lose their spot. 

After that, any town or city that has gotten local approval for a ban via town meeting or city council and has filed a home rule petition can try to join the ban. The state Department of Energy Resources will get to decide which communities get spots, regardless of the order in which they apply. 

Boston may find itself with some competition, according to Lisa Cunningham, a Brookline architect and co-founder of ZeroCarbonMA, a group working with towns to pressure the state to enact more aggressive climate policies. 

“Environmental justice communities very much want to move forward on this, and we have a few that we are working with” that could file home rule petitions, Cunningham said. There are several others working on this as well, she said.

By Sabrina Shankman Globe Staff - Boston Globe


NEHPBA Coalition Letter to Governor Baker on the MA Climate Bill

1 August 2022

This is what NEHPBA is doing regarding the MA Climate Bill. We are working with the Massachusetts Coalition of Sustainable Energy (MCSE). The letter we sent to Governor Baker can be seen here. The bill was passed by the House and Senate on Friday and sent to Governor Baker's desk. Baker sent the bill back with his amendments and late Sunday, July 31, a compromise bill was sent back to Baker for his signature. We are still waiting... NEHPBA will let you know if this bill is signed or vetoed.



NEHPBA Joins "The Fire Time Podcast" to Discuss Natural Gas Bans & Climate Change

27 April 2022

Tim Reed on "The Fire Time Podcast" was host to Joel Etter (NEHPBA President), Wayne Stritsman (outgoing HPBA Board Rep) and Karen Arpino (NEHPBA Executive Director) to discuss climate change and natural gas bans across the country and in the Northeast in particular. Listen to the Podcast: NEHPBA on the Battle of Electrification. And, if you don't listen to Tim Reed regularly, you should!

Want to listen on a different platform? You can, just click the link below.

Apple

Spotify

Amazon

Web Player


Statement from the Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association in response to MA Senate Climate Bill

8 April 2022

April 9, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statement from the Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association in response to MA Senate Climate Bill


Sudbury, MA – The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) released the following statement today:

The Massachusetts Senate Climate Bill is a major disappointment and a framework for severe disruption and job loss in the building and construction industry, significant inconveniences to homeowners and commercial property owners, and higher electric power rates that will hurt everyone. All of these negative impacts and economic injuries would result from a bill that guarantees more usage of dirty fuels such as coal and oil to generate electricity during peak demand periods.  

Banning fossil fuel primary heating sources and mandating electric power in all new construction is bad policy. These types of mandates and policies demonstrate a lack of vision by the authors of this Senate bill, and acquiescence to that myopic approach by all those who voted to approve it.  

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts needs a visionary approach to achieving our climate goals - an end result that the members of Northeast Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association strongly support. That means having a broad scope of options available to reduce building emissions. It means holding all energy producers accountable for decarbonizing their processes and fuels - not banning them. And it means the preservation of true energy diversity, so that major economic harm is not the unintended result.

About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Since 1985, the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has represented the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast.  NEHPBA was originally incorporated in January 1985 as the Northeast Solid Fuel Alliance (NESFA) in recognition of the unique demands of business in the Northeast. In June of 1992, NESFA members voted to become the first affiliated member of the national Hearth Products Association (HPA) and became the Northeast Hearth Products Association (NEHPA). In 2002, NEHPA became the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) in conjunction with the merger of the national HPA with the Barbecue Industry Association to become the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), thus recognizing the diversification of the modern industry.  The NEHPBA name has remained since 2002.



NEHPBA warns that proposed bans on natural gas and propane would have a “profound impact” on life in the Northeast

24 March 2022


March 24, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEHPBA warns that proposed bans on natural gas and propane would have a “profound impact” on life in the Northeast

Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association: ‘Consumer choices are at risk’ Appliances, heating systems, fireplace usage, even how we grill on July 4th will be disrupted by gas fuel bans.

Sudbury, MA The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) today warned that a gathering movement to ban natural gas and propane fuel in communities around the Northeast is placing fundamental consumer choices at serious risk - and threatens to disrupt household habits and traditions while imposing costly new rules on building construction.

“What does a ban on natural gas and propane in new housing development really mean?  It means if you plan to build a new home that house will have: no gas stoves, no gas water heaters, no gas heating systems, no gas pool or spa heaters, no gas barbecues, no gas fireplaces, and no gas fire pits.” said Joel Etter, President of NEHPBA and Senior Wholesale Account Manager for Hearth & Home Technologies. “If you look deeper at these proposals around the Northeast, you immediately appreciate the profound impact this policy can have on your day-to-day life.  These policies will affect how you heat your home, the appliances you use, what goes in your fireplace, and how you grill on your patio and deck over the Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July and during other precious family times.”

The Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association is a trade association representing more than 250 individual member retail and related companies throughout the Northeast. In just the states of New York and Massachusetts, NEHPBA has more than 140 members supporting over 900 families - the vast majority of which are independent “mom and pop” small businesses that are significant community contributors in the markets they serve across the region.

Proposed bans are also targeting new commercial and institutional buildings: most would prohibit new commercial buildings from using gas-fired boilers and halt restaurants from using gas stoves. Additionally: new health clubs, schools, and athletic facilities would not be able to heat commercial pools and spas with natural gas. Such restrictions would dramatically increase the cost of operations for all these types of facilities.

NEHPBA recognizes the changing landscape of the energy and fossil fuel industry. Its members are committed to working with government officials and regulators at all levels to increase access to more sustainable and climate-centric fuel sources throughout our homes and businesses. But a sensible long-term strategy to achieve responsible energy diversity must be the objective, as opposed to costly and damaging restrictions and bans that do little on their own to help reach our climate goals.

“Reducing dependence on natural gas will require an increase in electricity production because there will be a corresponding increase in demand for electricity. Unless that incremental electricity comes from specific sources, instead of reducing emissions gas bans can effectively just shift emissions from the building to electric generation sector,” said NEHPBA Executive Director Karen Arpino. “These changes would have a major impact on the most vulnerable among us. And unfortunately, this might be only the beginning. The next step will be for calls to retrofit existing homes and buildings to electricity at a potential cost of tens of thousands of dollars per household.”

More and more cities and towns around New England are considering proposed bans on natural gas or propane in new construction. The attorney general of Massachusetts has halted at least one local proposal because of doubts about its legality. Gas prohibition advocates, however, are also exploring ways to use state laws to accomplish a more broad-based ban.

“It’s likely that without expensive upgrades, the current electric grid may not be prepared to handle substantial electricity demand growth, which is exactly what would result from bans on gas and propane,” said Etter, the NEHPBA president. “Most importantly, these propane and gas bans take away consumer and business options and competitive pricing choices.”

About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Since 1985, the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has represented the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast.  NEHPBA was originally incorporated in January 1985 as the Northeast Solid Fuel Alliance (NESFA) in recognition of the unique demands of business in the Northeast. In June of 1992, NESFA members voted to become the first affiliated member of the national Hearth Products Association (HPA) and became the Northeast Hearth Products Association (NEHPA). In 2002, NEHPA became the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) in conjunction with the merger of the national HPA with the Barbecue Industry Association to become the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), thus recognizing the diversification of the modern industry.  The NEHPBA name has remained since 2002.


AG Healey Statement on Comments Her Office Filed Today on DOER's MA Stretch Code Straw Proposal

21 March 2022

“My office is committed to promoting policies that ensure we are meeting our state’s climate goals in a way that is equitable and protects all of our state’s consumers. Today, we filed comments with DOER confirming that it has the authority to create a special opt-in energy code under the Climate Act that will provide municipalities the opportunity to impose all-electric requirements. We will to continue to work with cities and towns to support their efforts to help build our clean energy economy.”

BACKGROUND:

Today, the AG’s Office filed comments on DOER’s stretch code straw proposal, confirming that DOER has authority, under the Clean Air Act, to create a special opt-in energy code that includes all electric requirements.

Municipalities will have the option to adopt this specialized code under sections 31 and 101 of the Climate Act.

Once adopted, the municipality will be able to impose the all-electric requirements in their town or city notwithstanding any other state law that might be seen as conflicting.

In 2020, the AG’s Office successfully petitioned the Department of Public Utilities to investigate the future of natural gas in Massachusetts, becoming the third state to proactively plan for a transition away from fossil fuels.

Last month, the office called on the DPU to put forward both immediate and long-term reforms needed to ensure that the state’s residents and businesses don’t incur unnecessary costs as demand for natural gas declines.

Source: State House News


Thank You MCSG For Supporting NEHPBA - AGAIN!

1 March 2022

Massachusetts Chimney Sweep Guild presented NEHPBA with a $5000 check at their annual MCSG dinner on Saturday night. The donation will help support our lobbying efforts!

 

Thank you to Dave Bancroft, Owner of Sweepnman and President of MCSG, the MSCG Directors, and to the Members! What fun to get a huge check!!!!


NEHPBA Submitted Comment Letter on the CAC Draft Scoping Plan for New York

24 February 2022

Today, the NEHPBA Submitted our comment letter on the CAC Draft Scoping Plan for New York. Please see our letter here:


NEHPBA calls for Massachusetts legislative leaders to halt S. 1333 and its devastating economic and climate impact

15 February 2022

February 15, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEHPBA calls for Massachusetts legislative leaders to halt S. 1333 and its devastating economic and climate impact. 

Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association says allowing municipalities to adopt their own energy guidelines for building permits will have severe negative effects on cost, emissions.


Sudbury, MA – The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) today urged the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy to oppose S.1333 because of its potentially devastating impact on energy costs and the overall cost of living for Massachusetts households, and the likelihood that the bill’s allowance of municipalities to mandate all-electric heating in new construction will actually increase carbon emissions.

“Allowing municipalities to adopt their own energy guidelines and regulations for building permits will prohibit them from reaching their energy emission goals,” said Joel Etter, President of NEHPBA and Senior Wholesale Account Manager for Hearth & Home Technologies. “Allowing for change faster than is economically and technically realistic will increase costs, increase emissions, and result in “dirty” energy in the Commonwealth.”

The Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association is a trade association representing over 60 member companies supporting 350 families in the Commonwealth - the vast majority of which are independent “mom and pop” small businesses that are significant community contributors in the markets they serve across the Commonwealth. 

As currently written, Senate Bill 1333 proposes to amend Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 143, and allow municipalities to require new building permits to be all-electric and prohibit the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure.

“These policies would result in a drastic increase in electric rates and cost of living, along with the possibility of inhibiting access to more affordable sources of fuel and power,” said NEHPBA Executive Director Karen Arpino. “These changes would have a major impact on the most vulnerable among us.“

NEHPBA recognizes the changing landscape of the energy and fossil fuel industry. Its members are committed to working with government officials and regulators at all levels to increase access to more sustainable and climate-centric fuel sources throughout our homes and businesses. But the challenges we have now must be addressed. 

For example: the price of electricity has increased drastically over the last year – even as demand has remained consistent. On January 25, 2021 the wholesale price for electricity was $40/MWh. On January 25, 2022 the price had risen to $200/MWh. Average prices to date in 2022 are about 80 percent higher than 2021.

New sources of energy from renewables are years away from being able to supply a consistent load that will make a difference in fuel mix needs. And while demand for electrical power continues to grow, energy supplies to generate electrical power are falling further behind. This is creating a huge burden on our regional transmission grid, creating extremely high prices. Allowing 351 municipalities to decide their own energy regulations would be unpredictable. 

“Electricity has not only become far more costly because we are no longer utilizing natural gas pipelines, but it is also far dirtier as a result,” said Arpino. “Natural gas is becoming more and more difficult to access or prohibited. That means we forced to import electricity that is generated using dirtier fuels such as coal and oil.”

According to data collected by ISO-New England, 12 percent of New England’s electricity in January was produced using oil, which is a dirtier fuel that emits more greenhouse gases. Over the last year, oil’s share of the fuel mix had never risen above 0.9 percent; in January 2021, it was 0.2 percent. Natural gas was used to produce 44 percent of our region’s electricity in January 2022—the lowest level in over a year. 

As heating and transportation are electrified, providing the new infrastructure will be critical to a consistent and cost-effective transition to a low-carbon economy. NEHPBA supports the creation of legislation that will modernize the electric grid and account for the changes and upgrades to the electric system, transmission, and storage.  

About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Since 1985, the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has represented the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast.  NEHPBA was originally incorporated in January 1985 as the Northeast Solid Fuel Alliance (NESFA) in recognition of the unique demands of business in the Northeast. In June of 1992, NESFA members voted to become the first affiliated member of the national Hearth Products Association (HPA) and became the Northeast Hearth Products Association (NEHPA). In 2002, NEHPA became the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) in conjunction with the merger of the national HPA with the Barbecue Industry Association to become the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), thus recognizing the diversification of the modern industry.  The NEHPBA name has remained since 2002.


NFI Hearth Design Specialist Course & Exam

25 January 2022



Where: Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center
14 Mechanic Street, Southbridge MA 01550

When: Monday, May 2, 2022 9:00am to 3:30pm



Here’s how you register for your course & certification materials:

  1. Go to Https://nficertified.org
  2. You do NOT have to create an account or log in.
  3. Click on Store in the upper right hand corner of the page
  4. Click on the category:
    1. NFI Manual, Review and Certification Exam
    2. NFI Review and Certification Exam ONLY
    3. Retest NFI Manual, Review and Certification exam
    4. Retest NFI Review and Certification Exam ONLY
  5. Select the Hearth Design Specialist
  6. Add it to your shopping cart and process the payment.
    1. Don’t forget to use a Coupon Code if you qualify to get your discount!
      1. If the company a person works for is a HPBA member, they qualify for a 30% discount. The Coupon Code is available from NEHPBA!
      2. If the company is not a NEHPBA member, but the person is NFI or CSIA certified, you qualify for a 20% discount. You can obtain the discount code from the NFI or CSIA office.
    2. During the payment process you will be asked where you want to take the review class. Choose NFI Partner Event and then choose your event from the drop-down box that appears.
      1. Remember: To take the exam online at a space at the hotel, BRING a computer with a webcam & microphone, or you can log in and take the exam at home whenever you are ready.
      2. You will receive an email with the login information for the exam as well as your user name and password. Make sure you have that information when you are ready to take the exam.

Along with a computer that has a webcam and microphone, you may bring a calculator to use during the exam. You may NOT use a smartphone for a calculator. There is an online calculator once you are in the actual exam.



NEHPBA Golf Tournament

24 January 2022




Is New York State Banning Wood Burning? The Answer is NO!

6 January 2022

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — As we ring in the New Year, many have reached out to the NewsChannel 9 Your Stories team wondering if you’ll still be able to burn wood or wood products in 2022.

 

They reached out to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to find out if there are any changes to the current policy to ensure you know the most up-to-date rules as of today.

A DEC spokesperson confirms to NewsChannel 9, New York State is not considering passing legislation that would prohibit anyone to burn wood or wood products in 2022 at this time.

However, the state’s Climate Action Council (CAC) is researching ways to limit greenhouse gas emissions and achieve the goals of The Climate Act proposed by former President Barack Obama.

The draft of the CAC’s “Scoping Plan” does not contain any specific recommendations directly related to wood burning, but conversations are in the works about putting New York State on a path to an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

In this drafted plan, members of the council’s advisory panel describe scenarios where wood consumption decreases within that time frame until 2050.

Starting Saturday, January 1, the Climate Action Council’s 120 day public comment period will begin. 

The Council is seeking feedback from New Yorkers on these approaches to energy and emissions in New York. If you’re interested in weighing in, click here. NEHPBA will be creating our own Call-To-Action in the coming days.

The Council will also hold at least six public hearings across the State, both in-person and virtual. The goal is to release the final Scoping Plan by January 1, 2023.

Article Source: https://www-localsyr-com.cdn.ampproject.org/


Climate Action Council wants to reduce 'Upstate NY wood smoke' - Albany Times-Union

21 December 2021

ALBANY - The council working on the beginning stages of a plan to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases in the state is looking into how reducing wood smoke could benefit the health of upstate New Yorkers.

The 22-member Climate Action Council is in the midst of a year-long study of how to achieve the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), an ambitious law passed in 2019 mandating the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent when compared to 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

During the October council meeting, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Director of Energy and Environmental Analysis Carl Mas made a presentation predicting reducing wood smoke by 40 percent upstate could reduce non-fatal heart attacks, asthma-related hospital visits and deaths significantly.

Wood smoke upstate comes from home heating methods, such as wood stoves, pellet stoves and fireplaces, as well as campfires and industrial production.

The council is looking at two scenarios for decreasing greenhouse gases, one of which includes the use of biofuels and green hydrogen. The second scenario envisions transitioning to renewables without biofuels. Both call for reducing wood consumption by 40 percent “relative to business as usual” by 2050, according to NYSERDA.

This reduction would have the greatest health benefits in upstate New York, according to Mas’ presentation, because more wood is burned here.

Reducing wood burning would have two health benefits, according to Mas, though only one of them has to do with climate change.

The first is reducing the small, inhalable particles produced by burning wood.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies President Emeritus William H. Schlesinger, a biogeochemist and expert on wood smoke, said burning wood produces large amounts of tiny particles called aromatic compounds, carbon-based molecules that can cause cancer.

It is also “increasingly believed by the medical profession” that breathing particles from wood smoke can lead to increased rates of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, Schlesinger said.

Wood smoke produces far more of these inhalable particles – some of which are carcinogenic – than all other forms of combustion in the state combined, according to Mas’ presentation.

Reducing wood consumption by 40 percent in New York would have quantifiable benefits, according to Mas’ presentation, with per capita health benefits from 2020-2050 of between $3,000 and $4,000 for Albany County and much of the Catskills.

Reducing wood burning would also reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide released into the atmosphere. Though burning wood only produces a tiny silver of all the nitrogen oxide released into the state’s air, the chemical has a drastic effect on climate change. A pound of nitrogen oxide has as much of an effect on the atmosphere as 265–298 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to the EPA.

Burning wood produces more nitrogen oxide than burning oil or natural gas, according to NYSERDA.

The council has not released its recommendations on how to reduce wood smoke upstate, but the task appears challenging, as wood, unlike other fuels, can be gotten for free by just foraging for it.

Kyle Morrison, who took over Gem Stove and Fireplace Company in Greene County from his grandfather a year ago, said wood stoves and pellet stoves are attractive to people because their fuels are cheap.

“Recently, with times changing and fuel prices going up, a lot of people are getting into wood,” he said.  “Our wood stove sales have been absolutely through the roof this year – pellet stoves as well were through the roof – we’re up about 230 percent in sales compared to last year.”

Morrison said his business has never recommended heating a home only with a wood or pellet stove, but that people requested it anyway. For many who aren't on municipal gas lines, choosing an alternative heat source like wood, oil or propane is a necessity.

A ton of wood chips costs $330, and most homes only need two to three tons to get through a winter, making it cheaper than propane, Morrison said, adding that those with access to firewood could essentially heat their homes for free.

New York isn’t the only state to set climate goals. Vermont released its draft Climate Action Plan in November, which has similar goals to New York’s but different methods. Notably, Vermont’s plan actually endorses burning wood as a way of cutting emissions.

“Efficient wood heat – whether with efficient stoves or automated boilers and furnaces – both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can save consumers money compared to fossil heat,” according to the plan.

Vermont’s plan endorses switching “from fossil-fuel dependent heating systems to cleaner and more efficient systems” including efficient wood stoves and heat pumps.

Though New York’s Climate Action Council has not yet made its recommendations, it is considering models where all new heating systems installed after 2035 would be heat pumps – low-energy systems that pull air from the surrounding air or ground to heat and cool homes.

State Sen. Daphne Jordan, whose district includes Columbia County and part of Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington counties, said her initial question was “if anyone at the council has reached out to, or even considered, the estimated hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, the vast majority of whom live in upstate and rely on wood to heat their home, to gauge their thoughts and concerns about this potential proposal?”

“…Wood remains a reliable, affordable, accessible fuel source” Jordan's statement continued. “Before Albany rushes forward with potential new mandates on the use of wood for home heating – mandates that would appear to target upstate – the Council should carefully consider the potential negative impact of such a proposal on family budgets.”

The council’s recommendations are due at the end of the year.

Source: Albany Times-Union 


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